Almost a full week before he was required to, LeBron James announced yesterday that he was opting out of his current contract with the Miami Heat. This choice makes James a free agent and the topic has now dominated the airwaves as speculation ramps up as to where he will go. What we we need to recognize first is that there is a very good chance that James doesn’t go anywhere.
His decision could be a move to get both Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to opt out as well. The goal here would be to sign for less, create more cap space and then go out and get more talent. James wants assurances from Pat Riley and the ownership of the Heat that they are are willing to do this. Becoming a free agent allows him to go elsewhere if he feels they aren’t doing that.
Four years ago, James committed one of the worst faux pas’ in the history of public relations when he announced he was “taking his talents to South Beach.” I’m pretty confident that we won’t see a similar type of ESPN production when James does come to a decision but then again who knows?
So where will LeBron go? Here are some possible destinations.
Why Miami? – James will return for the reasons I mentioned above. There has been some discussion that should the ‘big three’ take less money that Carmelo Anthony would do the same and join them. I don’t see this happening, but Miami could add some more shooting and more production at the point.
Why Not Miami? – Who’s to say James isn’t ready for a new challenge? Perhaps he wants to go somewhere that he can win but also do so without fellow hall of famers around him.
Why Cleveland? – What a story it would be to have him return to the place that he scorned four years ago. As Brian Windhorst of ESPN points out though, this won’t be an emotional decision because the first time around wasn’t an emotional decision. The Cavs have an excellent point guard in Kyrie Irving and the number on pick in tomorrow night’s draft. They also have the possibility of making a deal or two to bring aboard a top notch free agent.
Why Not Cleveland? – I have to believe there is still an open wound that exists between Cavs’ owner Dan Gilbert and LeBron. It was very ugly when James left and a lot of bridges were burned so I just don’t know that this is best decision for James both for personal and professional reasons.
Why Chicago? The Bulls would have a tremendous roster in place which would be very enticing for James. Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and company could be a great fit for James and with the Bulls moving everything downtown now, James could live right in the city.
Why Not Chicago? – Two words; Michael Jordan
The Field – I cannot see LeBron James going to a team in the Western Conference. It is by far a more demanding and more competitive conference. That would significantly reduce his opportunities to win titles.
I honestly think that he will return to Miami but the other thought I had was could there be a sleeper team? A team that could perhaps bring aboard Anthony as well could be in play.
At this point, I think there are a number of strong possibilities and those will change as LeBron speaks with people and you can bet, he’ll be speaking with all kinds of people too.